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Majority of family businesses in Timmins don’t have succession plan: survey

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Planning for retirement or death may not be a pleasant task, but the Timmins Chamber of Commerce wants members to understand the importance of having a succession plan that will ensure their hard-earned companies live on.

A survey of 100 family-owned businesses found three-quarters of them said they don’t have one.

A shocking figure for chamber president, Dan Ayotte.

"It’s a little scary that so many people don't have a plan,” Ayotte said, adding that these businesses are critical to the local economy.

“I think businesses should get ready and have somewhat of a succession plan, so that their businesses can go forward."

The large majority of those without a plan -- around 75 per cent -- said they don’t have a succession plan because they either don't find it urgent, are still valuing their business or can't find a buyer to take it over.

Others found the process too expensive or time consuming.

Local finance company owner Ryan Perkins said he was chosen by the original owner to be the company’s successor almost a decade ago, selecting him externally based on his passion for business and finance.

Perkins said it took several years to get himself and the business ready for the transition, adding that a proper emergency succession plan can make the change smoother.

"It takes care of who will run the business, what do you communicate with the clients or customers, what do you communicate with the team that you have working with the business,” Perkins said.

“That just settles and eases everyone's minds, from customers to teams, where you're able to keep the morale a little bit higher because there's a plan the whole way through."

It has been important for the company to always be five years ahead with its succession plans, Perkins said, because the alternative could mean working longer than one intended to or being shortchanged with a last-minute selling of the business.

The owner of a local pet supply store, Claudette Laporte, said she would like to retire in the near future but doesn’t have anyone to take over her store.

Selling the business is her only option.

"Family members are up and gone and doing their own life, so … finding the right buyer for the business is my optimal thing, so I can retire,” Laporte said.

With more than half of the businesses surveyed being at least 25 years old and around half of the owners being over age 50, Ayotte said an exit plan can ensure that a local company continues to flourish and that people can keep their jobs.

Ayotte admitted that he hasn’t even planned out next steps for his own insurance company, but that his industry is one that usually doesn’t have trouble finding buyers.

He said the chamber is available to help connect people with the tools and service providers they need to get the planning process started.

“We should have a plan, in case something drastic happens,” Ayotte said.

“We are trying to educate people and try to hook them up with … our members that do succession planning and help them out or even find somebody to buy somebody’s business.” 

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